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My Twitter Presence: Welcome to My Neighbourhood

Sometimes you read a question that your mind wants to answer (okay, wants to blog about). Chris Brogan’s question at the end of a post on his Twitter presence: how do YOU use Twitter? made me want to answer. To explore the question, and try and answer.

Maybe it was prompted by another conversation earlier in the week, on Facebook. Brad Shorr had asked: If you had to use only Facebook or only Twitter for business, which would you choose, and why?

My answer, for business, if I *had* to choose only one, was Facebook.

Whereas Twitter I need just for me.

I think that’s because Twitter, for me, is a place. A place where I can go and spend time, converse, connect, and engage. It feels real to me, sometimes tangible.

And when I thought a bit more about how I use it, or rather, what my presence is like when I’m there, I found myself thinking it was really my online neighbourhood. And that it’s the principles and practice of neighbourliness that I’m trying to demonstrate and encourage through the time I spend there.

Just another street in Buenos Aires

Here’s some of what I do

My Twitter Presence

do try and talk back to anyone who talks to me (unless falling into the bit too weird category)

I don’t automatically follow back.  There’s too much gunk out there.  Plus, I want to be able to keep some kind of eye on my twitter stream.  It might seem selfish, but this is the only way I can stay plugged into the stream.

I do reserve the right to unfollow if you tweet too much, too positive, too negative, too weird (my rules, my stream, I decide.)

I do follow >400 people and no, I don’t manage to keep up with them all

I don’t just tweet about work, business or writing.

I do enjoy exploring ideas around art, creativity, beauty, possibility, change.

(It looks a bit like this:)

I do share quotes, but hopefully not too many, and not too trite.

I do share links to good things I’ve read, and not just things I’ve written.

I do use Twitter to play.

I do enjoy tweeting fast and furious, and probably too fast for others to keep up.  (I’m sorry, but it’s how my mind works.)

I do absorb ideas, words, thoughts from my twitter stream until my mind gets scattered.  Sometimes too much and too fragmented, but sometimes just the trick for finding patterns and creating new kaleidoscopes.

I do spend time on Twitter for my own well-being: encouragement, motivation, support.

I don’t tweet when I’m feeling blue, it’s too hard to find a way in, plus everyone else can seem too cheery and sorted.

I do try and notice if others are feeling quiet, or out of sorts, and offer a word of encouragement and support.

I don’t DM anything I couldn’t live with being published by mistake.

I don’t do drive by tweeting (‘hi guys, just popping in to say hi, bye!’)

I don’t spend time on Twitter unless I’ve enough time to spend there.  It takes a while to get into the flow of conversation, and I can’t really see the point of being there just to pop in and out.  (It’s not a wall.  It’s not like Facebook, an update, and responses.  It’s not a wall. It’s a stream.)

I do try to be kind on Twitter, and to spread kindness there.  I think it’s infectious (I hope so.)

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love ~ Lao Tzu

I do try to make people feel welcome, and included. It’s why I talk about the weather on Twitter.

I do use Twitter selfishly.

I get a huge amount from the time I spend there. I like hanging out with artists, thinkers, writers, possibilitarians. It adds colour to my working day, to my online neighbourhood.

I do use Twitter based entirely on my own rules. I do what works for me.

It’s probably not the ‘right’ way to ‘use’  Twitter (and I was reassured to find out from Chris Brogan that I, and he, and you, are no doubt doing it wrong.)

But it works for me, and I’ll keep on adjusting my practice to ensure I can say that’s so.

To continue the conversation: how do YOU use Twitter?

Photo credit: just another street in Buenos Aires by Stuck in Customs on Flickr

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  1. Tweets that mention Ways to Engage and Connect on Twitter | Confident Writing -- says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lindsay McLeod and Joanna Paterson, Todd Rutherford. Todd Rutherford said: RT @joannayoung My Twitter Presence: Welcome to My Neighbourhood [...]

  2. Thandelike says:

    Thanks Joanna.

    I also do Twitter ‘wrong’, and like it just fine that way. I take heat for it, though, like when someone tweets me that they want to DM me and I’m not following them. My least favorite tweet to receive: the implication that I am required to follow a person for their convenience. I wish Twitter allowed ppl on our lists to DM us, since that capability would solve this issue most of the time.

    I really use my lists. Mostly for grouping people I want to keep an eye on for different reasons (some related to projects I have in development “publishing types”, others just a type of tweeter like “philosopher-healers” or “forward thinkers”. Then there’s the group whose work and lives and mindset overlaps mine: “globalists/culturati”).

    I find I cannot have too many subscriptions in my main stream or I lose touch with those people. I keep it around 400. If Tweetdeck worked better on the Mac and iPad I might consider expanding that number.

    My main stream is an eclectic bunch and I want to follow pretty much every link they tweet. That keeps me busy. Some are chatty, others all business. I can be both, but rarely chatty into the public stream for more than a tweet at a time.

    I try not to tweet things that are disembodied replies of no interest or sense to others “Funny, ha, I bet!” or banal stuff that is best for a DM or email “I’ll meet you on the corner in 5 mins”.

    I also have a series of saved searches of terms and hashtags I like to check on daily. Right now that’s some of my own projects #Dialogue2010 and #HybridAmbassadors, and my town Istanbul, and a hash that recently got my attention “#womeninnovators”.

    When interesting things fly by I favorite them, for reading and RTing later. I’m always amazed when I notice someone has zero favorites. How else do you save an interesting tweet?

  3. J.D. Meier says:

    I like your metaphor of “a place” … it gives it a “Cheers” or a friendly neighborhood sort of feel.

  4. Wendee says:

    I absolutely love this post, Joanna.
    I use Twitter like people in an office might use the coffee machine or water cooler - to congregate around and ease into the start of the day and to wind down in the late afternoons, and, yes, to dawdle throughout the day as well. It’s a nice break to connect with others, especially since I tend to spend my days working alone.

    I imagine that I’d be the same, at the real-life water cooler, complaining about the traffic under my breath, or wishing aloud for ice cream, not knowing if anyone was listening to me…

    I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I seem to get most of my breaking news this way, too, from various news agencies, professional organization and editorial tweeps. Some days I worry that I’m missing out on details; but so far, I seem to get by. ;-)
    And every time there’s an earthquake here or some event of concern or illness somewhere, I’m reminded that while our networks really do stretch internationally, the concern is immediate and heartfelt…

  5. Joanna
    Twitter: joannapaterson

    Thandelike wow, thanks for explaining in such detail how you use Twitter. I don’t get the idea of reciprocal following either - I just don’t think Twitter works that way. I do also try and favourite flying tweets I want to save, but sometimes I’m not quick enough, even so!

    J.D. I think the ‘Cheers’ analogy is close to the way Twitter feels for a lot of us… including the feeling you have of wanting to say hi when you ‘arrive’, and cheerio when you leave again ;-)

    Wendee I think Twitter is wonderful for those of us who work mostly on our own - for news, cheer, gossip, fun, answers to questions, and just some much needed company! I can’t really imagine my working week without it.